Happy Friday! It’s almost the end of the week, and we’re here to get you through the last few hours with a look at the Best TV Shows on TV. Every week, we watch so much TV that the lines between fact and fiction start to blur, sometimes with hilarious consequences. We sort through it all to bring you the best television shows of the week. It has happened before, and it will happen again.
And before we get into this week’s best shows on TV, we want to take care of your ears. Supernatural recapper Lenny had Myndi and EJ on the Secret Lover podcast for some TV chat. They talked about Myndi’s desire to join the Bradford family, the Hulk vs. a coyote, the best eating disorder storyline ever, and surprisingly popular baby names. Check it out on iTunes, or right here. (Also, check out the previous episode where Lenny and Katie devote an entire episode to talking about animation – it’s really good! And we’re not just saying that because Tiny Joseph is a topic of discussion.)
Finally, there are two people who’ve inspired entire weeks of content on spunkybean – Batman and Tom Waits. This week, The Dark Knight Rises came out on DVD, and today is Tom’s 63rd birthday. Thus, please enjoy this video of Tom on an Australian talk show in 1979, in which he seems to inspire Heath Ledger’s Joker performance.
And now, TV! We’ve already talked about Supernatural, Parks and Recreation, The Walking Dead, and more, but there’s still so much to talk about. Including a legitimately surprising crossover!
Sons of Anarchy – First off, we’re overjoyed that Nero survived the season finale. We didn’t think Jimmy Smits was getting out of there in one piece, but his role in this episode was actually pretty minor. But, you know, they needed the screen time to make sure we got to see Otto bite his own tongue off and throw it across the room. That happened! Otto’s scenes have been horrifying all year, and here he made a stand, indicating that he was never going to rat out the Sons. (And remember, creator Kurt Sutter plays Otto. He keeps doing this to himself!)
This week, Jax finally rid himself of Clay, by framing him for Pope’s murder. With one move, he eliminated Pope, sent Clay to prison, and bought himself some serious loyalty from Tig. But he did it in a way that put everybody at risk – if his plan hadn’t worked perfectly, Tig would definitely have been killed. It’s kind of a Clay move to unnecessarily risk somebody’s life without telling them, you know? Jax dealt with the immediate threat, but burned a lot of bridges doing so. (Bobby even resigned as Vice-President, and he’s the only one reasonably one left.)
But as tends to happen in the season finales, the women of SAMCRO made the biggest impact. Tara finally got her cast off (after a full season!) and learned she’d be able to operate again in six months. With Otto… indisposed, she was off the hook for a conspiracy charge, and she took a new job in Oregon to save herself and the kids. (And Jax, if he’d play along.) But the episode ended with the cops showing up at their house, bringing Gemma in for her role in the death of the prison nurse. (And while Otto really did trick her, her reasons for being in a position to be tricked would end her career.) And just check her out during the arrest – she looks determined and stoic. Not unlike a young Gemma.
Speaking of, we all agree Gemma is the one who turned in Tara, right? The final scene even has Gemma stepping up to take her place beside Jax – a recreation of the Season Four finale, with Gemma taking Tara’s place. She is determined to be the power behind SAMCRO, no matter the cost. And with Clay going to jail, she was finally free. Nothing to stand between her and Nero. She could have been done. But it’s more important for her to be the Old Lady than to be happy. Which leaves us wondering just how much of Clay’s fall she masterminded.
This season has been grueling, but exceptionally satisfying. We can’t even guess where it’s going to go next year, but it looks like Donal Logue is going to be continuing his crusade against the Sons. And at this point, we’re not sure who to root for.
Bob’s Burgers – Somehow, every episode of this show immediately becomes our new favorite. This week, some of us related a little too well to Tina when she crashed the car. Bob thought it would be a great idea for her to get some time behind the wheel in an (almost) empty parking lot. In a perfectly paced scene, Tina drove (very slowly) straight into the only other car in the lot. (Her constant moaning was hilarious, as was Bob’s exasperated “Just turn the wheel in either direction!”)
They had to lie to the insurance adjustor (Bob Odenkirk, in full-on Saul Goodman mode), which ate away at Tina (who also blamed a wayward cormorant for the crash), and it only got worse when Tina burned down the adjustor’s house. There’s more to the story, of course, but you should really just watch it instead. Seriously, this is one of our favorite shows, and the Tina-centric episodes are so sweet and relatable (while still being nuts). Check out the last few episodes on Hulu – it’ll be your Christmas present to yourself!
Happy Endings–Penny met a cute guy at the worst possible time, the month during which she was required to wear a helmet due to her tendency to fall and hit her head. Her plan was to come up with dates that involved helmets, like hiking riding Segways. She came clean before he got away for good, and we’re rooting for Penny and Pete, aka P&P Music Factory! Dave was drowning his sorrows in Sangria after thinking he’d made Max a victim of “down low, too slow” and Brad was navigating the ups and downs of being a trophy wife and Jane learned how to get in good with The Car Czar (Rob Corddry).
Raising Hope – You know, the episode description on the DVR indicated that Burt and Virginia were dealing with a squirrel bully. Which is sort of true, but it was more… specific than that. There was a squirrel in the park who’d been, you know, having his way with the other squirrels. And the Chances couldn’t let that stand. Catching him involved doping a bunch of squirrels (and Dancing Dan), and then being stuck with a sex offender squirrel in a cage. They couldn’t kill him, they couldn’t let him go, and the vet refused to castrate him. It managed to be adorable and icky, all at the same time. (The gag where they covered their ears when the squirrel escaped? Genius.) Meanwhile, Jimmy tried to be more manly by joining the Police Auxiliary, which didn’t appear to be a real thing and was, instead, Barney using a police scanner. And the best part – they ran into Sons of Anarchy’s Filthy Phil! Sure, the credits wanted us to believe his name was Liam, but he was wearing his SAMCRO jacket. That was totally Phil! And we even got a sweet moment to close out the episode, when Hope called Sabrina “Mama”. (Yes, we may have actually said “Awwww” out loud. Don’t judge us! It was super-cute!)
30 Rock – We got a wedding and a funeral, as 30 Rock heads into its final episodes. Elaine Stritch made her final appearance as Colleen Donaghy, as Jack’s mother died exactly the way we always expected – in mid-argument. Liz received an award as one of the “80 Under 80” (a ceremony attended by Gayle King and Wendy Williams, among others), and Jenna tries to make it all about her. Instead, Jenna took over Colleen’s funeral, turning it into her wedding. (How ya doin’ Will Forte?) Meanwhile, Tracy tried to cheer up Kenneth in a way that mostly involved besmirching Florence Henderson’s reputation. We were excited to see Kermit the Frog show up at Colleen’s funeral, and since we’re not going to let LOST references slip by, we have to note that not only did Charlotte show up to proposition Jack but at one point Kenneth cries out to Jacob for help. It’s not the first time he’s spoken to the Island’s guardian, and we’re kind of hoping that Jacob actually shows up for the finale. Come on Tina Fey, make it happen. We’ll be your best friends!
Burn Notice – On the list of shows where you wouldn’t expect to see Patton Oswalt, this one is fairly near the top. But we have to assume he couldn’t pass up the chance to share scenes with Bruce Campbell. Having Patton play a smuggler certainly improved an otherwise average episode. Come to think of it, we also got to see Maddie being a badass and a scene where Sam and Jesse talk about what they’re going to do with their lives after they’re done with Michael’s series of crises, all of which was pretty awesome. Though it’s really starting to feel like Michael is getting to be a burden. When even Sam is calling him out for taking advantage of his friends in the pursuit of his latest quest, you know that things have kind of turned a corner.
Whisker Wars – Friday’s episode was sent entirely at a single bearding completion in New York. This was where Jack Passion rejoined the circuit thanks to a groundswell of support that he imagined. And while we’ve made our feelings on Jack very clear, it is glorious to watch him just go at it with the Austin Facial Hair Club. (Members of the Texas team run a satirical fake Jack Passion Twitter feed!) They’re just dumping on each other for the first half of the episode, which includes a total pot/kettle moment when Jack gets all judgmental because the Austin team has a merch table. You may remember just last week that Jack was hawking his book to anybody who’d listen. Or you might even remember the greeting card photo shoot from last season that he admitted was “beard exploitation”. Point is, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on here. It led to an actually tense cliffhanger ending where Myk realizes after the awards that the votes had been miscounted, leaving Jack and Aarne out of the running altogether. That’s right, it was a fraudulent contest! We are genuinely nervous to see what comes of this, and whether it just increases Jack’s smugness. It probably will, because everything does.
Parenthood–The Bravermans got back on track this week, with the possible exception of Sarah. She went to L.A. with Hank, even as she and Mark continued to fight and be miserable. Things got really real when Mark showed up at their hotel, just as drunk Hank and Sarah were stumbling back to their rooms. This led to a terribly uncomfortable few scenes with Mark and Sarah that eventually ended in him dumping her, saying everything viewers have been lately. So, we can’t really blame him. Marlyse tried to close down The Luncheonette by trapping Crosby with embarrassing footage of him peeing in the alley and towing musician Glenn Hansard’s car, but in the end, Crosby rallied the rest of the neighbor’s to bring her down instead. We hope we’re done with this storyline. Julia had to deal with Victor catching up in school and the challenges that presented while Joel reluctantly hired Ryan for his construction project. That went bad when inexperienced Ryan broke some $800 windows and fled the site. Kristina was busy getting stoned and resting, but next week looks like things take a very serious turn for the worse.
Adventure Time – We’re a little behind the curve on this delightful (and occasionally disturbing) Cartoon Network show. (Just this week, Lenny had to explain to EJ that the show is set in a world after the apocalypse. Did people know this? EJ thought it was a Narnia-style world and Finn could return home to his parents at any time. THAT IS NOT THE CASE!) In “All the Little People”, some creature gave Finn a bag of action figures. Well, not really action figures – they were tiny little replicas of the cast that seemed to be at least semi-sentient. Finn would just put them next to one another and they’d interact, for better or for worse. He quickly got obsessed with matching up his friends to see what would happen, and eventually it ruined their tiny little lives.
I feel like there were any number of ways to take that episode. Was it about religion or the creative process? Was it a statement on fan fiction? (You’ve got to admit, Little Finn was the ultimate Mary Sue. And the way their perceptions were completely different from the reality surrounding them – was that headcanon?) I don’t know, but it was funny and compelling, and something about it was faintly unsettling. But it ends with a little tiny dance party, which is awesome.
The Office – This week’s episode ended with Toby and Nellie making out, and we’re actually kind of into it. But the most important thing we want to mention is that Erin wanted to watch Die Hard, and Pete’s response “I might have a copy or two in my car.” Damn, that’s a good line.
New Girl – Olivia Munn played a stripper. So, that’s pretty much all you need to know, right? OK, fine. Jess and Winston teamed up to get a bathtub and accidentally ruined Schmidt’s suits in the process. Naturally, the only thing they could do was pretend they were robbed by meth addicts. (Hey, guys? More Jess and Winston plots, please!) Schmidt was distracted by trying to win back CeCe and then blowing it all over again. And somehow, the fact that he gave her a live pigeon in a box wasn’t the problem. Finally, Nick “crossed the bar” and got involved with a customer (the aforementioned Munn) who he’d nicknamed “Thirsty Mendelson”. Things got weird and she ended up taking Nick to her work to get stitches. As mentioned, she’s a stripper and not a nurse. She’s sticking around for a few episodes, and while we feel like she is definitely bad for Nick, she is also Olivia Munn. (You can tell when Myndi hands off the write-up reins to EJ, can’t you?)
The League – Two episodes this week! The first episode of the night had Taco as a fake psychologist, which ultimately led us to a group therapy session where Andre got much too interested in puppetry and everybody was invited to hit him with a hammer because he couldn’t masturbate anymore. (Nobody said Taco was a good fake psychologist.) The second guest-starred Robert Wagner and Lee Meriwether, and also had Rafi forcing Kevin to wrestle Andre in a luchadore match. You guys, it was amazing. Also, one of our favorite things that happens on TV is whenever Nick Kroll sings a little Ruxin song to himself. It’s always hilarious!
Once Upon A Time–This week, we saw a midseason finale that reunited Snow and Emma with their family in Storybrooke at long last. They had to break out of Rumpy’s cell and beat Cora and Hook down to Lake Nostra (the one with the restorative waters), but as Snow was quick to remind us often in the hour, “good always wins.” Best of all, when Cora tried to rip out Emma’s heart, she was thwarted by Emma’s strength instead. We also saw how Regina of old asked Hook to kill Cora, who is apparently the Red Queen. He chose to bargain with her instead of killing her, in hopes of exacting his revenge on Rumpy, a saga that continues to the present day. We found that Cora allowed Regina to think she was gone so that when her daughter enacted the curse, she and Hook could hide from it in plain sight, and be frozen in time for the 28 years it would take to have it end. It turns out that Cora is Regina’s biggest weakness, something that will be tested now that she and Hook have arrived in Storybrooke, sitting in his pirate ship just offshore. Regina momentarily teamed with Rumpy to block anyone returning to Storybrooke, willing to sacrifice Emma and Snow in case it was Cora coming through. However, Henry showed up at the magical well at the last minute and convinced her to stop the spell for him, which she did. Snow and Emma came through and were thankful to Regina, but who knows how long this will last?
And there was so much more – Ben and Kate brought Brittany Snow to the cast as a love interest for Tommy (who has earned one), Always Sunny dealt with online gaming, Stephen Colbert spent a week geeking out over The Hobbit, and so much more. And if we’re missing anything, let us know! We’ve got lots of TV shows to watch, but we’re always looking for more. We’ll see you next week!